Procession honors fallen De Soto firefighter


DE SOTO, Mo. – A procession of honor made its way in front of the Mahn Funeral Home in De Soto Tuesday evening following visitation services for Lt. Ronald Wehlage Jr. of the De Soto Rural Fire Protection District.

Wehlage Jr. suffered a heart attack soon after responding to a house fire on June 28. He was 40.

“He always went above and beyond the call,” said Ronald Wehlage Sr. “He always wanted to help.”

Eureka Fire Chief Greg Brown was one of several area fire chiefs who traveled to De Soto to pay their respects.

“On the scene he seemed tired,” Brown said. “He went home the next morning and didn’t wake up.”

Brown was also representing The BackStoppers. The agency is assisting the family with financial support.

“When you lose someone, it hurts and it hurts deeply,” said Brown. “When you lose somebody so young as a result of working the job, that hits particularly close to home.”

Missouri State Fire Marshal Tim Kean traveled from Jefferson City to De Soto to show his support.

“It’s just the brotherhood and sisterhood uniting together to show the family and the community that we appreciate his service,” Kean said.

The visitation included precautions due to COVID-19. Masks were worn by those wanting to pay their respects. A graveside service with honors will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at St. Lucas Cemetery. The cemetery has restricted the number of people who can attend.

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